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254th ANG clinches intramural volleyball championship

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
The 254th Air National Guard were crowned champions after narrowly defeating the 734th Air Mobility Squadron, 2-1, during the 2010 Intramural Volleyball Championship Sept. 24, at the Coral Reef Fitness Center here.

"It's just another championship," said Michael Rabago, 254th coach. "We've been playing volleyball together for a long time now, so we're able to play as a team rather than a group of individual players."

The 254th team, who beat the 734th in the playoffs, was defending their title as the seven-time reigning champs. The winner was determined by who won two out of three matches. The first two matches went to 25 points and if both teams won one match a piece, the game would go to a third, 15-point match. The 734th would have to defeat the 254th team twice in order to clinch the title.

As the underdogs coming into the matchup, the 734th proved their worth on the court after winning the first match 25-23.

"I think we did good," said Lawrence Chargualaf, 734th coach. "We worked hard to get here. We're a great team with a lot of heart."

Coming into the second match, the ANG team switched up their game plan to exploit deficiencies in their opponent's lineup.

"After the first match, I rotated the lineup to mismatch the hitters," Rabago said.

The second match quickly became a seesaw battle as both teams fought for the lead. The game was tied at seven, 11, 18, 20 then 22 points. Each time one team would pull away with the lead the other would adjust and fix any weaknesses.

However, though the 734th team carried momentum into the second half, they were unable to keep it up and the 254th team was able to break away with the win, 25-22.

"At one point we noticed they had two weak passers next to each other so that's where we capitalized," said Rabago. "When you have a guy who can't set the ball, then you can't attack the ball. Nobody saw that though."

The 734th team entered the third match focused knowing the match only went to 15 and drew first blood to jump to an early 3-0 lead. However, the 254th quickly recovered to tie the match up at three. From there, the 254th team was able to take the lead with spot-on serves and aces, scoring four more points.

After a quick, 30-second timeout, the 734th were able to compose themselves and managed to claw their way back up the scoreboard and evened the score at seven. Another seesaw battle tested the grit and determination to win for both teams until the score was tied once again at 13.

The 254th broke the tie and on game-point scored with a spike that sent the ball close to the sideline. The 734th team let the ball go, complimenting the line-judge's out-of-bounds call. However, a controversial in-bounds call by the officiating referee ended the game giving the title to the 254th.

"You know, I feel if the line-judge called it in-bounds, it's in-bound. That's what he's there for." said Christopher Konopka, 734th team member. "But hats off to the Guard team for a fun match that I'm sure we'll be talking about for some time. Watch out though, the 734th will be back next year and we will win."

Despite the controversial call, the game was about having fun and friendly competition. Both teams shook hands and exchanged hugs with laughter and smiles afterwards.

"Either way, win or lose, there will be a barbeque after the game," Rabago said.